A child who simultaneously acquires languages functions as a monolingual child in his peer group, especially from the moment when he can easily distinguish between languages. The main condition for the development of language and communication is the differentiation of speech sounds emanating from the environment (for example, human sounds from inanimate nature). The child has a natural ability to learn any language, but the condition for mastering any of them is the ability to hear speech. The newborn is able to recognize the sounds of speech, and during the first year of life this ability will acquire the native language. The consequence of this is the loss of the ability to recognize sounds that are not used in the study of the native language, that is, phonemes characteristic of other languages. If the child has constant contact with two languages, their characteristic sounds are retained, and accent and typical intonation are acquired. In addition to the physical condition of the child, the entire process of speech development includes other areas of functioning. In order for this process not to be disturbed, it is necessary that the child’s mental and socio-emotional development progresses. The process of language acquisition occurs at subsequent stages, which are the same for all children, regardless of what language they are brought up in.
The expression of the first words that have a specific meaning usually occurs between 9 and 12 months of a child’s life, no later than 18 months of age. A child raised in a bilingual environment at that time learns both languages using simple and often heard words. This is an undifferentiated stage of “one language”, the same as that of monolingual children, however, it consists of two languages. Around 2 years of age children become aware that two different languages are spoken around them, they learn words in both languages and use them as synonyms.
When the so-called “vocabulary explosion” occurs, which occurs in the third year of a child’s life, children notice the grammar rules and begin to use them. A phenomenon typical for multilingual environments occurs, that is, the mixing of languages. The child borrows words from one language to another, builds lexical elements based on statements from both languages and mixes grammatical rules.
Thus, when speaking in one language, the child uses syntactic structures characteristic of another language. At the age of four, a child can use the appropriate language to communicate with a specific family member or in a given situation. Along with the expansion of vocabulary, the ability to express their thoughts using words and the assimilation of grammatical rules, children gradually mix languages less and can translate them.
Until about 8 years of age, you can acquire another language at the same level as your native one, including intonation and the ability to think and feel in this language. Learning a language later in life affects other areas of the brain than in childhood, so the typical linguistic mistakes adults make when learning a foreign language are very different from those made by a small child.
When the bilingual brain evaluates a language, the control and storage networks of both languages are active and accessible. This continuous processing requires deliberate focusing on specific input and keeping attention away from simultaneous distracting input in order to analyze the language being used. The brain of bilingual children must evaluate and determine not only the meaning of words, but also which patterns of sentence structure and grammar are applied and recognize the nuances of pronunciation.
From all of the above, it becomes obvious that bilingual children have the same patterns of speech development as monolingual children, and they can make both physiological errors and specific errors associated with speech pathology, which will make it difficult to assimilate and native, and non-native languages. However, in most cases, bilingual speech is primarily characterized by interference. The influence of one language system on another can be both insignificant (the presence of an accent, or very significant (the child uses words from different languages in one phrase).
So, first of all you should know that bilingual children think differently. They need to talk, read and even think in both languages at the same time. For this you need to help them. Help can be in every way such as watching movies with subtitles or reading bilingual kid`s books.